An Interview with Alycia Kaback, CEO & Co-Founder of VIP Ignite
Recently, we had a chance to interview the CEO and co-founder of VIP Ignite, Alycia Kaback. In this interview, she shared with her the life she’s living after VIP Ignite emerged in the business.
What are you working on right now?
Besides the day-to-day management of VIP Ignite, I am working on the production of the film ‘Behind The Ropes’, which is about that sense of fraternity and brotherhood in the world of professional wrestling. I am working on two books, one that involves the wrestlers featured in the film, like Tito Santana and Andrew “The Reinforcer” Anderson. It’s titled ‘Lessons from the Ring’ and presents life lessons that can be learned from the world of professional wrestling. The other book is called ‘Finding Fame – The Insider’s Guide to Success in the Entertainment’ industry, with contributors like Christopher Durang (director of a number one licensed Broadway play), Christine Gasbarre (New York Time Best Selling Author), and James Ragan (internationally recognized poet, playwright and screenwriter). Oh, and then there’s the anti-bullying campaign that I am very passionate about. That campaign will present real-life stories and new ways to address the bullying problem that has crossed the physical border and entered the cyberworld in a very disturbing way.
Where did the idea for VIP Ignite come from?
I saw people like myself who wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry; I saw them spending a ton of money on college, only to end up waiting tables. From my employment in another industry, I learned that the best way to succeed is to surround yourself with successful people. With that in mind, I went to the entertainment mecca – New York City. I knocked on door after door and got to know the major players. From there, I began a New York City-based networking event that evolved into VIP Ignite, the multi-pronged company that I now lead. It all began with the desire to help people who wanted to get into the entertainment industry and were relatively clueless on how to go about it.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day is different, but let me see if I can give you some idea. One moment, I’m talking to a celebrity that I met in Los Angeles a week ago and arranging for them to come to the office to participate in an interview and workshop. The next moment, I’m taking a call from a model in New York that is having the jitters and needs me to calm her down. Then, I’m discussing a new actor with a Talent Manager to decide where to submit him for a particular commercial. The next moment, I’m interviewing a man who traveled from Wisconsin for me to help him promote his new band. I said every day is different – it’s more like every moment is different! And then there’s the housekeeping, bookkeeping and all the other keeping that keeps a business afloat.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Waking up every morning is like Christmas day; I am always around people.
I trust my gut, and I read body language very well. I see what others may not catch. People typically fail because of themselves and their surroundings.
I love to people watch when they think no one is watching. I see what people do right and wrong. I study their actions, because one day when it matters, someone will be judging me without me even saying a word. I have ideas and I am very creative. I constantly have a notebook and take notes on everything, which includes lists of things to do. You have to have a plan and figure out ways to accomplish your goals. Sometimes, I even play a game with myself to figure out ways to expedite processes – I’ll pick up the phone or go to Facebook to ask my contacts what they think or if they could help. Successful people typically surround themselves with successful people. If I have an idea, I love to share it with my peers and hear their thoughts about it. Everything is fresh and new with different perspectives. I take my peers’ advice to heart. A little bit of everyone has impacted my life inside of my brain, like compartments. When I know what I want, I have to create a clear-cut way to achieve it.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The trend in my own life of connecting with more and more people that I admire. For example, networking with people I have never met before, especially in Los Angeles. I’m going on actual movie sets vs. sitting behind the desk casting the projects, and I have a say in the Broadway community. My voice matters! I am earning the right to speak my opinions and to make my voice heard. I am climbing up the network ladder and talking to people that I would never have dreamt of knowing. I’ve gotten press passes with NASA or gone to the Tony Awards, and even had Tony Award-winning writer Christopher Durang at my home for dinner. I have no idea what tomorrow brings – that is what excites me.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
Probably the job that many take when their first love is the entertainment field – waiting tables. I was a waitress at Planet Hollywood. Nothing against Planet Hollywood, but I knew I was meant for something, and the time I spent waiting tables was time that I wasn’t spending on my dream.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
That’s an easy one. I would do what I now preach to everyone – surround yourself with a strong support group. If I could go back, I wouldn’t waste a second with people who were complainers, nay-sayers, and pessimists, even if they were friends! I would respect my own self-image enough not to let anyone tamper with it. Then, I would search out the best people and would work at getting connected to their worlds. I learned to do that, and now I live largely by that principle. In the beginning, I was still feeling my way, like most of us do, and fell into many of the traps that slow down progress.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I start every day with a to-do list and stay accountable to it. This is especially so if you are your own boss and don’t have someone to answer to – you need “something” to answer to. Then, you take this idea and transfer it to the people on your team, which means that they have their own to-do lists. In this way, you can manage yourself, manage your team, and manage expectations.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As VIP Ignite and all of our successes have become more known through social media, I have encountered a problem that many successful people encounter – cyber bullying. One reason that has been suggested to me is that people who didn’t have the work ethic or perseverance to succeed in the entertainment industry want to make themselves feel better at the expense of those who are successful. I don’t even want to talk about the nature of some of the threats on myself, my home, and even my pets! In terms of overcoming it, I don’t know if there is a way to stop a cyber bully because anyone can say whatever they want and post it. I suppose the positive in that experience is that it made me look at the problem at-large and begin an anti-bullying campaign. Coincidentally, the very first person we mentioned the idea to just visited her daughter’s school principal that morning about a bullying issue. I’ll take that situation as a sign that this is something we should be doing, and that we can make a difference by sharing more of these stories. The moral here is overcoming a problem by using the problem to do something that helps others.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Here are a few! Know what you want. Find people who are succeeding at what you want to do, then get to know them and learn from them! Then, make them part of your network! That’s the headline; here’s the story: In order to be able to connect with successful people, you need to develop the traits and qualities that successful people respect. These traits include clarity of purpose, dogged determination, and persistence, sincerity, a sociable personality, a sense of how your purpose helps others, and skills! Make sure you have these traits, then start growing your support system, all while staying focused and grounded on what you are doing and why you are doing it! Another idea is to be careful when hiring friends, because it tends to be harder to hold them accountable, and it becomes very difficult if you have to let them go!
Tell us a secret.
Okay, here is one that might get a little laugh. I am producing ‘Behind the Ropes’, a movie with famous pro wrestlers, and I have no idea about their stats, who beat who, when and where! But I love hanging out with them and getting to know the people behind the characters they have developed. It’s so much fun, especially when they come to my parties. So, you can’t ask me who won that ECPW Heavyweight Championship, but you can ask me what topping the winner likes on his pizza!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?
Facebook is still strong for me, in that it keeps me current and in touch with so many contacts and friends in the entertainment industry. IMDB, naturally, since the talent we represent often appear in movies and on TV. And Vimeo is a great resource to stay connected with what’s happening creatively in video productions and new trends that these productions might be creating or predicting.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There are so many, but one that remains timeless and relevant is ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie. Think about the two core ideas: 1. Most success comes from the ability to communicate effectively; 2. Value people and help them to feel appreciated, rather than trying to manipulate them. These principles account for my success and for all the wonderful relationships I have formed and cherish so much!
I also have to mention one other that has helped me get back on track whenever I felt a situation was too difficult, every time I felt I wasn’t experienced enough, rich enough, or this enough, that enough. The book is ‘Think and Grow Rich‘ by Napoleon Hill. One of the many amazing quotes from this book that I would say to myself every time I wanted to give up is, “It is my duty, and privilege to say I believe, and not without reason, that nothing is impossible to the person who backs desire with enduring faith.” Burning desire. Enduring faith. Burning desire. Enduring faith!
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
If you’re asking me for my suggestion or advice, rather than naming names, I would suggest categories. What is important to you? Is it a profession, a cause, a medium? It could be a person. But just as I suggest to surround yourself with people who can further your purpose in life, I would suggest following the tweeters who can do the same.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
At my WrestleMania 30 party when my puppy, Baby Cuddles, jumped up on pro-wrestling journalist Bill Apter’s lap and started licking his face while he was trying to shoot video footage of Tito Santana.
Who is your hero?
My dad! Growing up with an attorney as a father, I learned at a very young age that everything is negotiable. My dad instilled in me the determination of setting a goal and relentlessly going after it until it is achieved. Without his influence, I might have never taken a chance on my future and would have never known how amazing this life can be and how capable I truly am. Let me just finish with a personal message: Dad, I’ve always told you that I look up to you, and to that, you’d reply, “What you see in me is just a reflection of what I already see in you.” Thank you for seeing what I was capable of, long before I could see it in myself.
People can connect with me very easily. Feel free to reach out!